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Dreamgirls is a fictional work, adapted from a 1981 successful Broadway musical inspired by the real-life story and success of The Supremes. The film version references elements of Motown history to add backstory to the musical's plot, and there are many homages to a number of distinct 1960s/1970s R&B stars (besides The Supremes and Motown acts such as Marvin Gaye, the Jackson 5, and Tammi Terrell, non-Motown artists such as James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin, and Sly & the Family Stone are also referenced). This is similar to "The Five Heartbeats", a film based upon the histories of The Dells, The Temptations, and other 1960s/1970s R&B groups. It's pretty clear that the Supremes provided the starting point for the story, but the plot takes many turns which differentiate it from their actual story. It's a lot like "ripped from the headlines" plots on Law & Order, which start with a real event but add and/or change elements to fill out the episode. Florence Ballard never had an affair (or a child) with Berry Gordy, and she died without making a comeback after being forced from the group. She was also not the permanent lead singer of the group before they became famous.. Diana Ross left the group in 1969. Some of the differences with reality were part of the story from its conception, but others happened because of things that came up during the film's development process. Edit (Coming Soon)
"Dreamgirls" was originally a Broadway musical, and the film retains about thirty songs or song snippets from the original stage musical, with four new songs ("Love You I Do", "Patience", "Perfect World", and "Listen"). Since the film is a musical based on a Broadway production, and, again, is not actually a Motown/Supremes biopic, there is no need to use Motown songs or imitations of such. The only song that could be labeled an imitation is "Perfect World"; however, that song is presented as a parody of the Jackson 5's hits more than anything else.
However, a number of the songs do pay homage to the Supremes and the other R&B girl groups of the day (for example, the instrumentation for the song "Dreamgirls" is rearranged from its original Broadway orchestration to sound more similar to a Motown Funk Brothers band track, and the distinct influence of The Supremes' styles of singing and harmony can be distinctly heard on most of the Dreams' songs). The "Dreamgirls" film also takes inspiration from sources outside of Motown: strains of James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Little Richard, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and Donny Hathaway can be distinctly heard throughout the film.
Incidentally, if "Dreamgirls" were actually a Motown biopic, only a handful of its songs should actually have the Motown sound, in order to be historically accurate: "Love You I Do", "Dreamgirls", "Heavy", and the "I'm Somebody" medley. The other songs are either (a) performed before 1963, before the Motown Sound had fully developed and the company's releases were closer in style to the other R&B/soul releases of day, (b) performed in a venue for which Motown would have rearranged its songs to make them more palatable to a particular audience (i.e. Las Vegas), or (c) performed after 1973, by which time the Motown Sound was becoming less distinct again, due to the changes in the soul music industry at the time. Edit (Coming Soon)
The "Dreamgirls" film is based on a successful Broadway musical of the same name. The musical debuted on Broadway in 1981, went on an international tour in the mid 1980s, and has been celebrated since then in numerous community theater productions throughout the U.S. Like all other musicals that made it to film (such as "Grease", "Annie", and Chicago), songs and choreography are a huge part of "Dreamgirls". Consequently, the music of the original "Dreamgirls" play, much of which is kept intact in the film, has been celebrated over the years. The play won six Tony awards out of the twelve it was nominated for. Jennifer Holiday, who played the original Effie, won a Grammy for her rendition of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." If you're expecting a regular film with nothing but dialogue, you may be disappointed. You also may be jarred by several scenes where singing is interspersed with talking dialogue. However, if you're prepared for a musical or don't mind suspending your disbelief for a while, you'll be in for a treat and the songs, which are integral to the story, will all make sense.
Extra: The film version left out the following song scenes from the original play:
(1) "Party, Party" - Company
(2) "Press Conference" - Company
(3) "Only the Beginning" - Curtis, Deena and Effie
(4) "Drivin' Down the Strip" - Jimmy
(5) "One More Picture Please" - Company
(6) "Got to Be Good Times" - Four Tuxedos
(7) "Ain't No Party" - Lorrell and Jimmy
(8) "Quintette" - Deena, Lorrell, C.C., Michelle and Jimmy
However, four new songs were written for the film version:
(1) "Love You I Do" - Effie
(2) "Patience" - Jimmy, Lorrell, C.C., and Chorus
(3) Perfect World - Campbell Connection
(4) "Listen" - Deena Edit (Coming Soon)
A 2005 change to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' rules for eligibility in its music categories was the cause of Beyoncé Knowles' failure to gain a nomination for co-writing "Listen". According to Rule 16, Section B, Line 6 of the 79th Academy Awards Rules, "No more than two statuettes will normally be given in the Original Song category. A third statuette may be awarded when there are three essentially equal contributors to a song." There were four writers credited with composing "Listen": Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler, Anne Preven, and Knowles. When the 79th Academy Award longlists were being compiled, it was determined up that Krieger, Preven, and Cutler had each made more significant contributions to the song than Knowles. As the fourth writer, she was not eligible to share the nomination of "Listen" for the Oscar. The Golden Globes, however, do not have a rule limiting the number of composers eligible for a music award, so Knowles was indeed a nominee for the 2007 Golden Globe for Best Song. Edit (Coming Soon)
No, it isn't. The movie with the most Oscar-nominations without one for Best Picture is They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) with 9 nominations. Take a look here or here. It is, however, the only film to have the most Oscar nominations for its award year without getting nominated for Best Picture. Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) was nominated for ten Oscars in 1970. Edit (Coming Soon)